FBI asked to join investigation of death of pastor’s wife, Mica Miller

(RNS) — The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office have been asked to assist in an investigation into the death of Mica Miller, a pastor’s wife whose apparent suicide in North Carolina has been the source of fierce controversy and widespread speculation among her friends and former church community in South Carolina.

“The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the United States Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation in South Carolina since the early stages of the Mica Miller investigation,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement to local news station WPDE on Monday (May 13). “Based on the information gathered during the investigation and jurisdiction reasons, the Sheriff’s Office has requested the assistance of both agencies.”

Miller, 30, was found dead at Lumber River State Park near the South Carolina border west of Wilmington on April 27, and earlier this month, the Robeson County medical examiner determined she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A timeline of events released by the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office and reported by WPDE shows footage of Miller purchasing a weapon and ammunition from a pawnshop just after 12:30 on the afternoon of April 27. A 911 phone call records Mica confirming her location at the state park and threatening suicide just before 3 p.m.

Mica’s husband, John-Paul Miller, 44, pastor of Solid Rock at Market Common church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, announced her death at the conclusion of an otherwise lighthearted church service on April 28, saying her death was “self-induced” and that she “wasn’t well mentally.”

In a eulogy for his wife, Miller told the congregation that he had attemtped to “raise her from the dead.”

Pastor John-Paul Miller speaks during the memorial service for his late wife, Mica Miller, at Solid Rock at Market Common church in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Video screen grab)

On May 5, Miller was reportedly released from ministerial functions at the church. More recently, the Rev. Charles Randall, listed on the church website as a spiritual adviser and mentor, allegedly clarified that Miller had not been fired. Randall declined to comment for this story.

Miller’s behavior, and rumors of strife and alienation between him and his wife, has led to conjecture that he had something to do with Mica Miller’s demise, but the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, according to WPDE, has evidence that neither John-Paul, nor another woman he “is allegedly romantically involved with,” were in North Carolina the day of Mica’s death.

John-Paul Miller’s lawyer released a statement Thursday condemning the “falsehoods” circulating online and in the media. “Our client refutes any report that suggests he ever abused his wife. Recent reports claim that Pastor Miller ‘groomed’ his wife from the age of 10 years old couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

The lawyer said Mica moved to Myrtle Beach at 15 and married another man when she was 18. That marriage, the statement said, broke up when she was 21. The statement also claims that Mica suffered from bipolar disorder, which led to “paranoid episodes and self-destructive behavior.”

In police reports obtained by WPDE, Mica Miller said she had been “groomed” by her husband while she worked at Solid Rock Church. She had also reported instances of harassment by a suspect whose name was redacted from the reports.

Two days before her death, Mica served John-Paul divorce papers, according to a May 2 affidavit filed by Mica’s younger sister, Sierra Francis. Francis added that Mica had “expressed the abuse and violence against her by her husband to others,” and that Mica was fearful her life would be taken from her.

Nathaniel Francis, Mica’s brother, reportedly claimed in an affidavit that Mica had made several recent police reports about finding her tires slashed and tracking devices in her car, and “told me on numerous occasions that she feared John-Paul and just wanted to escape him.”

According to archived versions of the Solid Rock Ministries website, John-Paul founded the church in 2006, when he was in his 20s. The website says he “holds several Bible School degrees and is currently continuing his education at a local Bible College as well as Horry Georgetown Technical College.”

The sheriff’s office asked that anyone with information for the Miller investigation contact the Columbia, South Carolina, FBI office. The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office did not reply to a Religion News Service request for comment.

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